Couple doing home improvements

Get Hands On!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Want to fix that leaky tap but don’t know how? Or maybe you fancy a new pair of curtains? Quids in! shares some inspiring stories from people who’ve learnt how to glam up their pad through DIY…

For many people, the thought of carrying out repairs on their house is a scary one. Something as simple as a leaky tap may get you ringing your landlord or the plumber and can cost you money and time that you don’t have.

Albert never thought he’d be able to decorate his own flat. But when he signed up for a course on interior decorating, he realised it’s actually much easier than he thought. Plus he learnt loads of new skills!

“I never thought I could produce the work I have done on this project. I would always go out to buy items for my home but now working with my designer, I can see the benefits to making my own stuff. I am getting designs to suit my taste and I am saving money too!”

So how do you go about learning how to Do It Yourself? There are plenty of courses available out there (see our Useful Contacts box). The courses help you learn new skills, save money and let you make your house your own.

Get a fab pad!
One scheme that helps people in social housing learn basic DIY skills is Fab Pads. Susan Aktemel, who runs the scheme in Scotland, explains why it’s important for people to take care of their own home:

“Making your house your home is the most important and satisfying thing you can do. It’s the foundation for everything else in your life. Fab Pad participants achieve great things every day, through hard work and working with our talented interior designers.”

Carol is a Fab Pads success story. She learnt how to make furnishings for her real-life story house: “I can’t believe the things I’ve made so far. I love every minute of it! I was really afraid to use the sewing machine at first, but after trying a few small items, I felt confident enough to make my own bedroom curtains. I love them! Now I’m making cushions for my son and I am learning new skills like zips and piping.”

Cashback!
And learning how to look after your home has never been more important. The Government recently said they are going to test a scheme that will give tenants in social housing the chance to carry out their own DIY. Known as the ‘Tenant Cashback’ scheme, the idea is to give tenants cash to do up their home, rather than getting their landlord or an agency to do it for them. While there has been a mixed response to the scheme, many professionals think it will give tenants the chance to make their homes better.

Some Housing Associations are also offering courses where tenants can learn the basic skills needed to keep their home in shape. Brighton and Hove Council have set up The Housing Centre, an old warehouse which has been turned into a place where tenants can come and do courses on DIY and much more.

And as Lorraine from the East End reveals, training schemes can work:
“My house was a tip! I hated it. I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t know what I was doing. It’s great to have someone that can tell you stuff – I didn’t know you could wash your walls with sugar soap!

“Before I had a habit of starting something and not finishing it. Now instead of just rushing into it I plan it all out. My house is still not done yet but I now know that at the end it’ll all be done the way I want it. It makes you feel good when you make things you’ve never tried before. Now I’ll be able to do it myself!”

Tenant Training Courses
Get in touch with your local housing association and ask if they offer DIY tenant training courses

Fab Pads
T: 0141 575 3001
impactarts.co.uk
Based in Scotland, the scheme teaches young people in their first tenancy or at risk of homelessness how to personalise their home.

DIY School
thediyschool.co.uk
Operating in Birmingham and Manchester, DIY School offer dozens of different courses with finding available for some through the Jobcentre/DWP.

Ready to get started? Click below for our simple guide to decorating a frame for your favourite picture!

How to decorate a picture frame

What you need:
✔ A small wooden picture frame
✔ A small piece of medium grit
sandpaper (120 grit)
✔ A damp duster
✔ A small flat-bristled brush
✔ A small pot of water
✔ Free taster pots of white and
coloured emulsion paint
✔ Your choice of decorations. This can
be glitter, sequins or small stickers,
PVA glue or clear varnish.

  1. Pull back the support clips at the back of the frame and take out the backing and glass cover.
  2. Take your sandpaper and rub along the grain of the entire frame to remove any surface imperfections.
  3. Wipe off any sawdust with your damp cloth or duster.
  4. Dampen your flat-bristled brush and use it to apply a thin coat of basic white emulsion from your taster pot.
  5. When this is dry apply two thin coats of your chosen colour, allowing the frame to dry thoroughly after each coat.
  6. You can now apply your choice of decoration using PVA glue.
  7. Once the glue is completely dry you can add a thin coat of varnish to finish off and protect your design. Allow it to dry thoroughly.
  8. Replace the glass, insert your chosen image fasten the clips and replace the backing.

Quids in! says
★ Protect your surfaces and clothing by wearing an apron and spreading newspaper on your work area.
★ Keep your brush and water pot clean to avoid any messy mixing of paints.
★ For a smoother finish, you can use sandpaper in between coats of varnish!

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